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An unlikely marriage in Kashmir

The formation in Jammu and Kashmir of a government involving the local Peoples Democratic Party and India's ruling BJP is an unlikely marriage. The BJP's resounding defeat in Delhi elections, so soon after the ouster of the corrupt Congress national government, doubtless helped nudge it to the altar. If that sense of political reality holds, the region's future prospects are bright. - Gajendra Singh (Mar 2, '15)

Generals probed in Xi's graft purge
The Chinese Communist Party is investigating 14 generals for corruption as a nationwide anti-graft campaign instigated by President Xi Jinping widens to encompass the People's Liberation Army. Among those under investigation is Rear Admiral Guo Zhenggang, son of a former vice-chairman of the party's Central Military Commission, which commands the armed forces. - Yang Fan and Ho Shan (Mar 3, '15)

Rakhmon notches another poll win
The party of Tajikistan's President Emomali Rakhmon has swept aside all opposition to increase his hold on parliament, winning 57 out of 63 seats in a general election that international observers say fell far short of democratic standards. Rakhmon has led the country since 1992. - Edward Lemon (Mar 3, '15)

Germany's future lies East
Germany, sooner or later, must answer a categorical imperative - how to keep running massive trade surpluses while dumping its euro trade partners. The only possible answer is more trade with Russia, China and East Asia. It will take quite a while, but a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing commercial axis is all but inevitable. - Pepe Escobar (Mar 3, '15)

A prayer for AIPAC's demise
As the powerful pro-Israeli government lobby the American Israel Public Affairs Committee holds its annual policy meeting in Washington, I'm praying that this year marks the beginning of the end of its grip on US foreign policy as the right-wing organization slowly loses its bipartisan appeal. Here's why that's a good thing. - Medea Benjamin (Mar 3, '15)

The Arab intellectual is resting, not dead
This is a strange period in the history of Arab culture and politics. It is strange because popular revolutions are propelled by the articulation and insight of intellectuals, yet there seems to be no equivalent of yesteryear's intellectual in today's Arab landscape - the closest would be propagators of "moderate Islam". But this is temporary. It has to be. - Ramzy Baroud (Mar 3, '15)

BJP joins Kashmir government
India's ruling BJP party is joining the state government of Jammu and Kashmir for the first time, with senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh being sworn in as deputy chief minister under Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of the Peoples Democratic Party, which advocates for self-rule in the disputed territory. (Mar 2, '15)

Thousands mourn slain Nemtsov
Thousands of people - figures range from 16,000 to 1000,000 - marched through Moscow in memory of former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov - a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin - after he was gunned down in the Russian capital on Friday. (Mar 2, '15)

HK maids' torturer gets 6 years
The former Hong Kong employer of two Indonesian domestic workers has been given a six-year prison term after being found guilty of 18 counts of torture and assault. The finding attracted demands for reform of laws on domestic labor and criticism that the trial should have been heard at a more senior court, so permitting a more severe sentence.
- Lam Lok-tung (Mar 2, '15)

Israeli ex-generals condemn Netanyahu
In an unprecedented move, 200 veterans of the Israeli security services have accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being a “danger” to Israel, their protest coming on the even of his visit to address a joint meeting of the US Congress against the wishes of the White House. - Jonathan Cook (Mar 2, '15)

The Middle East and perpetual war
There is a popular idea in Washington, DC, that the United States ought to be doing more to quash the Islamic State: if we don't, they will send terrorists to plague our lives. Previously, the canard was that we had to intervene in the Middle East to protect the flow of oil to the West. So why in fact are we there? The only answer is: "Israel". - Leon Anderson (Mar 2, '15)

My war on terror
One way or another, Washington has been complicit in the creation or strengthening of most every extreme terror outfit across the Middle East. And while Americans condemn "extremist barbarity", we are blind to our own. We react to "their" existence in an atmosphere of ever-increasing fear - while offering no significant complaint to the 30,000 deaths by vehicle each year at home. - Tom Engelhardt (Mar 2, '15)

EU raises profile in Caucasus
The European Union is making a push to raise its profile in two trouble spots in the South Caucasus, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Brussels insists its forays in the region are nothing more than routine diplomacy. But some observers believe the EU is hoping to push back against Russia's troublemaking in Ukraine. (Mar 2, '15)

Aung San and Dworkin: Well-lived lives
Most countries have their national or political "heroes". One such is Myanmar's General Aung San, born 100 years ago this month. Less celebrated publicly is Ronald Dworkin, who passed away just two years ago, also on February 13. But the latter's view of life can help us better understand that of the former and of other once-living emblems of nationhood. - Myint Zan (Feb 27, '15)

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Republicans in a blind alley on IS
The course of the upcoming Republican presidential debates, insofar as they will touch on foreign policy, is already clear: they will be marked by a barely concealed Islamophobia and inept prescriptions for defeating Islamic State. Absent a willingness to address the issue of good governance in the Islamic world, there is no reason to believe that the US and its allies will succeed in destroying ISIS. - Ehsan Ahrari (Feb 27, '15)

US pushes India on defense pacts
The United States is renewing pressure on India to sign three military "foundational" pacts it has been pushing for over a decade, saying they are a "vehicle" for closer strategic ties. Before Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power last year, India had made it clear it did not want to sign the pacts, one of which entails the militaries of both countries to provide refueling and berthing facilities to each other's warships and aircraft. (Feb 27, '15)

Fukishima leak unreported
The operator of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant has been strongly criticized for neglecting to report a radioactive leak for 10 months, after it admitted to doing so because of an ongoing investigation. Operator TEPCO this week then revealed another more recent leak from a drainage ditch. (Feb 27, '15)

The great Holy Land oil game
The presence of large quantities of natural gas below the eastern Mediterranean - including off the coast of Gaza - combined with Israel's desperate need for energy supplies independent of hostile neighbors, means that the present Middle East crisis is nothing but prelude. - Michael Schwartz (Feb 27, '15)

The conceit of Western liberalism
Liberals might be loosing the moral high ground in what seems a watershed in Western public discourse, as "political correctness" increasingly leads to self-censorship (and claims of "microaggresion") among individuals, in academia, and in the media. The jewels Westerners have always been proud of, honest reporting and free speech, seem no longer compatible with pluralism and liberal multiculturalism. - Friedrich Hansen (Feb 27, '15)

China's ambition
not quite a 'plan'

The Hundred-Year Marathon
by Michael Pillsbury

Will China succeed in overtaking the US as the top superpower by peaceful means? Michael Pillsbury, in his book subtitled "China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower", warns that there is such a plan, but is it not, rather, a vague ambition such as is harbored by all states and people alike to one day become great? Still, Pillsbury might have the wrong answers, but perhaps he asks some of the right questions. - Francesco Sisci (Feb 27, '15)

Civilians 'massacred' in Myanmar
Amid accusations by Kokang rebel forces in northern Myanmar that the government is "massacring" unarmed civilians, aid workers in the region near the border with China have cremated large numbers of bodies of civilians in recent days, with photos showing some of the dead with their hands bound and others with missing limbs. - Qiao Long and Kyaw Kyaw Aung (Feb 26, '15)

Report warns of human rights decline
Human rights in Myanmar backtracked in key areas in 2014 despite ongoing reforms in the Southeast Asian nation, according to an Amnesty International report, which cited restrictions on freedom of expression and a failure to address incitement to violence based on national, racial and religious hatred. (Feb 26, '15)

The rise of fascism is again the issue
Fascism is preserved as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality - Auschwitz and elsewhere - terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal, Western societies whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism - Ukraine and elsewhere - is suppressed; for it is their fascism. - John Pilger (Feb 26, '15)

The bidding war for Iran
The world now anticipates that the US will reach a strategic agreement with Iran. Russia and China are responding by offering their own deals to Tehran. A possible game-changer is Russia's offer of the Antey-2500 air defense system to Iran. Such an intervention might make Iran effectively impregnable from attack by Israel. (Feb 26, '15)

Russia's quest for Balkan bases
Russia has long harbored an expansionist drive to the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean. The prelude or precondition for Moscow to be able to make real progress toward securing its influence in these areas has been its domination of Ukraine and the Black Sea. - Stephen Blank (Feb 26, '15)

The great SIM card heist
American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the world's largest manufacturer of SIM cards, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. (Feb 26, '15)

Israeli Arabs must use poll opportunity
If the Israeli Arabs want equal distribution of resources to improve their socio-economic conditions, fully integrate into Israeli society, and contribute constructively to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, they must now fully exercise their right to vote in the March 17 elections and not squander this historic opportunity.
- Alon Ben-Meir (Feb 25, '15)

China's double standard on corruption
The Xi Jinping government considers corruption to be a "social pollutant", even an existential threat to the Chinese Communist Party. Yet China turns a blind eye to the corrosive effects of the substantial flows of its aid, assistance, and investment funds on recipient nations, all in the name of "noninterference". - Virginia Marantidou and Brad Glosserman (Feb 25, '15)


Jakarta deadline
for Newmont deal
on Freeport smelter

Indonesia, which wants foreign miners to develop processing facilities so the country can export refined products rather than raw ore, says Newmont Mining's Indonesian copper export permit will not be renewed beyond March 19 unless it strikes a deal to invest in a smelter planned by Freeport-McMoRan.

China tops Hollywood
Like most every other American industry, Hollywood looks east and sees a growing colossus in China. In February, China's monthly box-office topped the US market for the first time, and hardly a US-made film in sight.
- Jeff Labrecque

Europe's upside-down
myth about Greek debt

Behind the current crisis between Greece and the European Union lies a fable that has a telling relationship to why Athens and a number of other eurozone countries are in deep distress. This is not about poor budgeting but about crony capitalism.
- Conn Hallinan

Periphery fragility list
There's a natural ebb and flow to financial markets. It can be clear-cut greed vs fear - but often it's more leaning risk embracement or risk aversion. Yet these days, little is typical or "natural" when it comes to market behavior.
Doug Noland looks at the previous week's events each Monday.

Russia barges into the EU tent
The significance of the agreement signed in Moscow on Wednesday to let Russian navy ships to stop at ports in Cyprus may lend itself to exaggerated notions of a military pact between the two countries.. On the other hand, the profound meaning of the agreement in political terms cannot be lost on Washington and the European capitals.
- M K Bhadrakumar

Defying the toothless protests of Damascus and the threat of IS confronting Turkish troops, Ankara has scored a political point by "evacuating" the tomb of Suleiman Shah to a spot close to the Turkish border.
Abraham Bin Yiju
Messina, Italy
   Go to Letters to the Editor

1. Year of the Sheep, Century of the Dragon?

2. Petty criminals, favorite spies

3. IS and the morning after war

4. Obama's admission not enough

5. Cybercrime a threat to nation states

6. The answer to the Needham Question

7. Energy and hybrid war in the Ukraine crisis

8. Venezuela's struggle against the 'common enemy'

9. Too many 'most wanted'

10. Too-thrifty Germany

(Feb 23-24, 2015)


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